The Maldives have for far too long been the unattainable travel destination. The playground of the rich and famous who would fork out the $1000 a night/ room only without batting an eye-lid. A dream that has been too far fetched for the thrill seekers, adventure travelers, backpackers or young middle class honeymooners. The Barefoot Eco Hotel is situated on the beautiful island of Hanimadhoo, and it opened its doors just three years ago. Feeling like a very private resort, it only hosts around 50 people in the entire place at any give time, so it feels very exclusive – at what can easily be said to be ‘half of the cost of a regular island-only resort’.
The place has a unique charm and tranquillity about it only found on picture perfect postcards. An idyllic destination for the single travelers, the surfers or the young families, looking for the ultimate “slow” destination. A perfect oasis of calm, a place to unwind and regenerate fully: body and soul.
From the eco-designed the beach villas, blending into the natural habitat of the trees and perfect tropical bushes that line the beachfront (keeping it from eroding away – a naturally occurring phenomenon in the Maldives), to the pieces of art created entirely from reclaimed coral, glass or rope by Marcello Chiarenza, an Italian designer, to being woken up every morning by the sound of the breaking waves – in perfect harmony with the exotic song of the local birds, we’ve never been to a place quite like this.
“The owner, who is an experienced 5* all inclusive resort owner, wanted to create a different place when he built Barefoot; he wanted to offer an alternative to the all inclusive resorts…all whilst being affordable and sustainable”
says Miss Aisha, the friendly and welcoming resort manager.
The entire place is tied into local community. A lot of the staff are local people, and if they are not from Hanimadhoo – then a lot of them are young students working for the summer to make some money and study. Bonus: the zen music is provided by Ngie, a renowned Maldivian DJ who also happens to be a woman.
The food is delicious and varied. From English and European breakfasts to curried rice dishes, there is something for everyone. The fish is galore, and it goes without saying that all fish is ethically sourced on the island, directly from local fishermen.
Even some fruit and vegetables like eggplant and tomatoes are grown in the resorts very own vegetable garden. Every week there is a Maldivian cooking show, where women from the village come an use the stone oven to cook the fish the Maldivian way. An unforgettable experience, whether you are a foodie or not.
There is always a lot to see in the Maldives, and the most beautiful sights are of course under water. The Maldives are coral islands, which is what makes them so spectacular. So diving or at least snorkeling is a must. The hotel actually offers snorkeling trips every afternoon for free. With private and group trips also possible at a reasonable cost. For those interested in how the Maldivian live, free bikes are available to take into the village at your own leisure.
Event though most times we travel to see new places, sometimes we want a place to be still. Somewhere we can just slow down, and breathe…yes, that perfect place is in the Maldives. And no “slow” destination would be complete without at least a yoga class. An instructor – led yoga class, takes place by the infinity pool every morning. It is a Natural Health Retreat where body and spirit are nurtured and restored.
Information and booking: www.thebarefoot.com
Credit Photos: The Barefoot Eco Hotel, Manuela Morar